P&S Journal: Fall 1994, Vol.14, No.3
Dr. Ralph E. Alexander'36
Rochester, New York
I am pleased to share my remembrance of Dr. Apgar. I hardly overstate the case when I say that, at the time at least, I felt she had rescued my medical school career.
It was in the spring of 1935 that my group of third-year medical students were assigned to surgery. On the first night, at perhaps 2:30 a.m., I was awakened at Bard Hall and requested to come immediately to surgery to second assist at an emergency operation. I rushed into my clothes as best I could, ran to the hospital, took the elevator to the operating room to find the patient fully anesthetized and the entire operating room staff, surgeons, and all scrubbed and standing around more or less patiently waiting for me! Scrubbing up was surely the longest 10 minutes of my life after which I rushed into my gown and plunged my hand into a glove proffered by the OR nurse only to find that my hand sailed through it, leaving tatters of rubber around my wrist. Out came a second pair of gloves. I gingerly inserted my right hand only to find, to my great embarrassment, that I again ripped the glove to shreds. At that point there was an explosion-Virginia Apgar virtually screamed at the OR nurse, "When are you going to stop giving the second assistant those miserable old rotted repaired gloves," or something to that effect. "Get him a new pair!"-and my career was saved.
My regret is that our paths did not cross, and I never did have the opportunity thereafter to thank her for her support.